September 14, 2012 Reading time: ~1 minute

Source unattributed (via Tumblr).

September 11, 2012 Reading time: ~1 minute

Stourhead, UK. Photograph by Steve Bridger ('mexicanwave' on Flickr).


November 29, 2011 Reading time: ~1 minute

Photograph by Julie G (Herding Grasshoppers).

Three hundred changing summers, winters too,

July 4, 2011 Reading time: 2 minutes

Since first the quivering sapling struggled through,
A hundred thousand days since you were born,
And took to earth from out the green acorn.
Survived the pounding hoof and rooting pig,
Put out first fragile arms, and then the big.

Two hundred years ago you firmly stood,
In promise rich as any in the wood,
Before your brothers in the claim to space,
With root and leaf creating your own place,
Had heard the thunder roar and breezes sing,
And from the storm given shelter to a king.

The next two hundred years had passed you by,
To find you yet fit neighbor to the sky,
And all man’s need of ship, and church, and fire,
Had not assailed your own tremendous spire,
Which year by year from sap to solid core,
Unseen, unheard, took on a little more.

But nigh four thousand scintillating moons,
Three hundred Christmases, three hundred Junes
Have gone for nought and ever you must kneel
Before this artisan with bitter steel,
And to the sun and air lose acids raw,
Until the log is fit to meet the saw.

Till now beneath the softly-singing plane,
Your lustrous boards give up the secret grain,
And let the tiger-stripe medullar shine,
Across your straight and sturdy growing line,
And he who works with every shaving hears
How you grew into glory with the years.

And was it only evolution’s twist,
That man and timber came to co-exist?
Or did some greater mind regard that seed,
And plan it thus, so fit for every need?
Look at this chair, this door, that roof and know,
They could not be unless He meant it so.

—"To an Oak Tree",
E.C. Wells

Two Trees

October 23, 2010 Reading time: ~1 minute

There is a tree set broad and high,
Partake of it, if you would die.
There, on its branches, plain to see
A feast for thee.

"Take and eat", O hear the Lie
I live still, and yet I die
Good and evil now I see
O cursed me.

But, see —

There is a tree set broad and high,
Partake of it, if you would die.
There, on its branches, plain to see
A feast for thee.

"Take and eat -- my flesh I give"
Die I do, and yet, I live
Shattered curse by Thy decree,
O blessed Tree.

Jen Wilkin


Tree carving, Kyiv, Ukraine

February 5, 2009 Reading time: ~1 minute

We are in Kyiv, Ukraine, looking at a rich brown tree carved into the image of a warrior in the Ukrainian/Slavic tradition. In the background is a side street filled with parked cars and building fronts.

Tree carved into traditional art, on a street in Kyiv, Ukraine. Photograph credit to John Howe, 2009.

Trees have a special role in Ukrainian myth and culture, perhaps because Christianity arrived so late in the region. Our guide took us to see several that had been sculpted. When a tree dies on a city street, it is turned into a work of native art before being ultimately replaced by a new sapling. It is a delightful idea.

—John Howe,